By Sherley Guerrier
HandsOn Broward held their third annual Summer Service Camp Monday, July 7th – Friday, July 11th, 2014. 38 youth volunteers, ages 13-17, were engaged in meaningful service projects throughout the week.
Summer Service Camp sites included:
- Children’s Harbor: Foster care homes where siblings are kept together and teen mothers live with their children
- Broward Emergency Operations Center: Center for disaster preparedness and response
- ARC Broward: Electronics recycling facility
- North East Focal Point: Senior activities center
- Miramar Community Garden: Micro farming system
As a former youth volunteer, I have gone through similar programs with HandsOn Broward. During Summer Camp this year, I had the opportunity to serve as a Project Leader. It was definitely interesting to serve from a different perspective, especially since I was in their shoes not too long ago.
I remembered some of the campers from previous youth programs we were in together, but there were also new faces in the group. My initial thoughts were, “This is going to be a long week.” Every evening I got home I was exhausted, but it was a good exhaustion. I was witnessing youth become world changers each day. The campers switched from thoughts of “Why am I here?” to “I can’t wait until tomorrow!”
On Monday we went to Children’s Harbor. We had several projects in line for that day, which included building wood covers for storage under the pavilion and house cleaning. We also had time to decorate some treats and cards of caring for the kids to come home to after their summer activities.
On Tuesday, the campers learned all about disaster preparedness. We started out the day with a tour of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), where campers learned what happens in Broward County before, during and after a disaster. After the tour, campers headed back to home base and were involved with conducting hurricane preparedness assessments for local senior citizens. First, the students were prepared through a SAFE (Safety Assessments for Emergencies) Training, which showed them exactly what to look for when they examined the homes, and how to conduct the assessments. They also helped assemble disaster preparedness kits that they brought with them to the seniors’ homes. They also participated in a Hands-Only CPR training led by the American Red Cross.
On Wednesday, we went to ARC Broward where the campers split up into groups and visited four stations of the warehouse. The stations included testing donated electronics, shredding hard drives, disassembling computers, and sorting electronics for recycling. This project gave campers a chance to try something new while having a lot of fun and making a difference.
Our next destination was North East Focal Point Senior Center on Thursday. The campers participated in a wide variety of activities with the seniors, including Bingo, Tai Chi, gardening, dancing & singing, providing manicures, getting schooled in dominoes, and, most importantly, making the seniors smile by being their companions for the day.
Friday’s focus was on the environment at the Miramar Community Garden. The campers split into two teams – one group constructed benches for the garden, and the other created garden grids in the garden boxes. The campers ended our series of service projects with accomplished smiles as they carried the last finished bench to its new home under the big tree at the garden.
Witnessing these youth volunteers participate in service over the course of the five days was inspiring. Exposing students to different impact areas can ignite a passion to change their community for the better. The youth of this generation may not realize they have untapped potential that can be used to ultimately change this world. Together, this generation could change the direction of the world’s future politically, economically, and socially. Young people are capable. I strongly believe in the power of youth.
I encourage everyone to try volunteering through HandsOn Broward. If you have a child who wants to get involved in next year’s Summer Service Camp, or any other youth programs with HandsOn Broward, you can reach out to Melissa Sutliff, Director of Youth Programs, at Melissa@HandsOnBroward.org. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram where they update the volunteer community with the latest news.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead